“Where do I start? My life is so disorganized!”
Start with just five minutes a day.
“But I can’t accomplish anything in just five minutes!”
Five minutes a day is more than nothing, it’s a containable time period, and by the end of one week – you’ll have dedicated more than 35 minutes to your de-cluttering goal. Here’s another tip to follow that will help you feel more organized, five minutes at a time.
Today’s 5 Minute Fix: Simple Files Win Every Time
Did you know that paper overload is the predominant reason for people to seek organizing help? It is true. Even now, when there are more mobile applications and virtual solutions than ever, paper is still the number one reason people seek organizing assistance!
Most paper pile-ups are due to four underlying causes:
- Postponed decisions
- Inefficient storage systems
- Poor filing habits
- Overloaded incoming paper management systems
#1 – Fix Postponed Decisions: Sometimes papers are piled high because we postpone decisions about them. Many postponed decisions become piles. In fact, when you sit through my workshops, I request that you simply rename piles as “postponed decisions”. How can you speed decision-making up? Create simple systems that help you layer your decisions from easiest to most difficult.
#2 – Fix Inefficient Storage Systems: Taking time to create some simple folders with labels for your major bills and similar paperwork goes a long way to help you manage incoming papers. Create a home for your paper storage, and keep them together. Your system doesn’t have to be perfect to start, HINT – you may want to keep a few extra folders and labels in arms reach when you need to create a new file quickly.
#3 – Fix Poor Habits: Once you’ve created your simple filing system, you just need to use it regularly – and without hesitation. Take a handful of papers from your pile, or your inbox, and go through each one. Start at the top paper and work your way all the way through the pile. Macro sort piles into three action batches: FILE, ACT, and TOSS. Force yourself to make quick decisions about whether to: trash them, file them immediately (as long as a file system already exists and this item fits in), or make a note of the action required and put them in an “action” file. Don’t put anything back on the pile, and don’t put them anywhere but in a folder (and no cheating “to be filed” folders!) or in the trash/recycling bin. (If you need assistance with this step – attend my “Power Office!” Workshop – and bring a whole stack of your postponed decisions!)
#4 – Fix Incoming Paper Overload: The fastest Avenue to de-cluttering is to cease and desist the incoming barrage of paper. This often has to be handled case by case depending on the number of mailing lists you are on. For Magazines – contact them directly and ask to be removed from their lists. For junk mail – you can try these helpful sites:
- To opt out of pre-approved credit offers: http://www.optoutprescreen.com/
- Still need phone books? I don’t think so…: http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/
- Get off mailing lists for unwanted catalogs: http://www.catalogchoice.org/
- Reduce junk mail and calls by 70% at: http://privatecitizen.com/
- And, while you’re at it – You may as well remove yourself from unwanted telemarketing calls: https://www.donotcall.gov/
If you need help with decision making, paper management and filing – consider attending one of my workshops or teleclass presentations such as: Power Office! or Paper Management 101. To find out more about these workshops/teleclasses, contact me for details.